A late Ashley Young own-goal denied Everton another victory this afternoon at a wet Goodison Park as Brighton finally claimed a one-all draw.
It is a frustrating end to the match and the initial feeling will probably be of two points dropped rather than one gained.
However, looking at it dispassionately then I suppose we need to recognise that Everton are now unbeaten in their last three matches and have only lost to Liverpool (and a hugely controversial defeat too) in the last four Premier League games.
That isn’t much to write home about to be honest, but it does represent a definite improvement results wise, compared to where the team was a few months ago.
Going into today’s game I thought this would be a real test of where the Toffees actually are and whether they are making genuine progress.
Well, the Blues couldn’t make it three wins in a row but came very close before fatigue perhaps told and their defence was finally breached.
That defence is a critical factor in the recent improvment we have seen from Everton recently, indeed it is arguably the key reason.
Once again James Tarkowski and particularly Jarrad Branthwaite were outstanding with Branthwaite snuffing out the threat of Brighton’s talented young striker Evan Ferguson.
The home side were playing without the ball for long periods as expected, but they offered the most goalscoring threat and took the lead when Vitalii Mykolenko’s shot was deflected in off Lewis Dunk. Deflections would end up defining this game.
For most of the first half the Toffees in fact had the best chances with Abdoualye Doucoure, Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin having chances to get a second.
They couldn’t and you always felt that one goal wouldn’t be enough and that eventually Brighton’s monopoly of the ball, increasingly pressure and commitment to keep playing attacking football (unlike the home side) would pay dividends.
The Seagulls centre-back Dunk in fact had the ball in the net from a stunning shot but it was ruled out by VAR for offside.
Late in the second half the visitors were pushing hard and finally a cross was deflected hugely by Young and looped over Jordan Pickford, who had also saved well earlier from Dunk.
There was still time for Everton to almost score again only for the attempt to be cleared off the line denying the Blues a winner that might have been a little flattering in truth.
So, an annoying end to another solid performance. But in truth considering that the Seagulls have been one of the better teams in the Premier League over the last few seasons, feeling disappointed with a draw indicates real improvement.